Environmental Ethics
and Public Policy
Ernest Partridge, Ph.D
www.igc.org/gadfly

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The Gadfly's E-Mail: gadfly@igc.org


Classical Guitar:
"The Other Profession
"

 

 

 

The Myth of "The Liberal Media"

A Potpourri


"Perhaps we should provide for the separation of state and entertainment."

A New Yorker cartoon
(Two founding fathers are shown working
on a draft of the Bill of Rights)


The Freedom Forum/Roper Center reported in 1996 that 61 percent of the 139 Washington-based journalists that responded, replied that they were either "liberal" or "liberal to moderate," while only nine percent identified themselves as "conservative" to "moderate-conservative."

Studies such as these are bandied about to "prove" a "liberal bias" in the media.

That argument conveniently forgets that "reporters" report, while editors and publishers (at the behest of the media's owners) decide what is to be reported, and who is to write the columns and the editorials.  The poor "liberal" reporter who takes it upon himself to write an opinion piece expressing his "left-wing bias" will soon find himself buying his next newspaper to look at the want ads.  In any case, his "bias" will not likely see print or air time.  At the Editor's desk, the Joe Friday Dragnet rule applies:  "Just the facts, ma'am." 

The result?  Note the following from The Nation's Daphne Eviatar (March 12, 2001 issue):

A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that in the last weeks of the presidential campaign, Bush was twice as likely to receive positive coverage as Gore.  And the group's study examining five scattered weeks between February and June revealed that more than three-quarters of the campaign included discussion that Gore lies and exaggerates or is tainted by scandal, while the most common theme about Bush was that he is a "different kind of Republican."

This should come as no surprise, for

The magazine Editor & Publisher has been tracking newspaper endorsements of presidential candidates since 1932.  Contrary to the myth of the liberal media, in only two elections since then -- 1964 and 1992 -- have more endorsements gone to the Democratic candidate than the Republican.  The 2000 election was no exception, according to a survey E&P (11/6/00) commissioned of newspaper executives: 48 percent said their paper would support George W. Bush, while only 23 percent were picking Al Gore.  Personally, 59 percent of publishers said they planned to vote for Bush, v. just 20 percent inclined to Gore."  (Extra! (FAIR), January/February, 2001).

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post was on the mark  when he recently  wrote that "no honest person who has watched television in the past month (January, 2002) can pretend that there is such a thing anymore as 'the liberal media.'"

And anyone who followed the 2000 presidential campaign and still believes that there is a "liberal bias," must be getting his or her news from a ouija board -- or just as reliably, from The Fox Network.


The "Think Tanks"  Seminaries for the "Conservative" Gospel

In a survey of U.S. major media news reports that used think tanks as sources of information in 1998-99, the number of those reports in which the think tanks that were cited (but usually not named in the stories) were categorized by nonpartisan watchdog group (FAIR) as conservative or right-leaning:

8,014

Number of those reports in which the think tanks cited sited were categorized as liberal or left-leaning:

1,632

Donations (at record level) to George W. Bush's presidential primary campaign in 1999:

Over $100 Million

Unpublicized donations to the to three conservative think tanks, which shaped U.S. public opinion by serving as primary sources in more than 8,000 major media stories analyzing such issues as climate change, environmental regulation, economic growth, and military spending, during the year preceding the Bush campaign:

Over $129 Million

World Watch, Jan-Feb, 2001


People as Products:

"Make no mistake: The primary purpose of the mass media is to sell audiences to advertisers.  We are the product.  Although people are much more sophisticated about advertising now than even a few years ago, most are still shocked to learn this...

Although we like to think of advertising as unimportant, it is in fact the most important aspect of the mass media.  It is the point.  Advertising supports more than sixty percent of magazine and newspaper production and almost 100 percent of the electronic media.  Over $40 billion a year in ad revenue is generated for television and radio, and over $30 billion for magazines and newspapers.

Jean Kilbourne, Deadly Persusaions... (Free Press) 
Quoted in Extra! (FAIR), July/August, 2001


Who Reads What?

The Wall Street Journal is read by people who run the country.

The New York Times is read by people who think they run the country.

The Washington Post is ready by people who think they ought to run the country.

USA Today is ready by people who think they ought to run the country but don't understand the Washington Post.

The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could spare the time.

The Boston Globe is ready by people whose parents used to run the country.

The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't sure who's running the country.

The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something scandalous.

The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country or that anyone is running it.

The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country.

Digital Industry (Boston)

 

Links to Authentically Progressive/Liberal Websites

 

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .